Our Education Journey

Spending time recently listening to Young Heretics, combined with the wonderful education our younger children are getting in their classical Christian school, has inspired me to discuss, very briefly, our family’s educational journey.

We have a rather low regard for government schools now, but that has not always been the case. We have three children who spent their entire elementary and secondary school careers in the government system. When our youngest two children were born, we made the decision that they would not ever attend government school, for reasons that have actually become more acute as the years have gone by.

When our first child was born, I was in my early 20s. I was a year older when the next two were born (twins). We were young, inexperienced parents, and we’d received what we thought was a perfectly adequate public school education. So when each of our children turned 5, I dutifully enrolled them into our local government school. It was a very good school, as schools go. The teachers were welcoming, the parent community was vibrant and engaging, and I volunteered a lot of time at their school. We were quite happy there.

After a move, we enrolled them in another local school, and the experience was equally rewarding, perhaps even more than in the first school. I was spending so many volunteer hours at school that I was considering becoming a substitute to receive remuneration for some of my efforts. Again, we were happy with the education our children were receiving.

As they rounded out their elementary education, there was a sudden shift in the atmosphere of the schools. It seemed as if simultaneously, several more family-centered principals began to retire and were replaced by younger, more bureaucratic minded administrators. They were nice enough, but they were sticklers for rules, quickly reining in the long rope of access and influence that parents had enjoyed.

Our children remained in school, but we were more vigilant than ever about what they were taught, and the ways they were being taught. We decided it was best to let them finish out their remaining 4 or 5 years rather than starting over with a new system. As it turned out, high school was markedly better. Parents and students have a lot more control over the classes their children take, and with that, the caliber of their classmates.

Around the time that those children graduated to middle school, our 4th child was born, followed quickly by the 5th. We were older and wiser then. Our growing dissatisfaction with the change in public school atmosphere and policy, combined with a few other variables, sent us on a search for alternatives for those two children. There was no way we were going to start the government school journey again. One of the things we explored was homeschooling.

When it was time for those kids to start school, armed with all my curriculum and research, I began homeschooling. The first two or three years went well. I taught them to read and count and we had fun science experiences, mostly nature based. Around the 4th year, I started feeling a real need to connect with other, more experienced homeschooling families. We needed community, so we joined a co-op which we loved, for 3 years.

The kids made friends, thrived, and took rewarding classes. The only problem was that the sense of community that I’d experienced growing up, that our older children experienced through their school experience, was missing. I was ill-prepared to deal with one of the bedrock, foundational characteristics of homeschooling families; a fierce sense of independence and a willingness to quickly change course in order to meet their specific goals and needs. It’s actually admirable and understandable. It just makes it hard for kids and families to put down roots and build relationships in the ways that the geographical commonality of a neighborhood school provides. Nevertheless, we refused to go back to government schools. They’d only grown worse in the years since our first “set” of kids had graduated from them.

In God’s Providence, a dear friend of mine had joined a community of like-minded homeschooling families with a passion for classical education. These were families who had not only committed to the true purpose of education, they had committed to each other, and they were taking steps to move from being just a co-op to an actual school. We joined them the next year, and we’ve been there ever since. The kids attend school two days a week, and it’s the perfect blend of time in school and time homeschooling.

Not only are our kids studying classic literature, art, and music, but they are learning history that reflects a positive message about our country. The painful realities are not omitted, they are just not held out as the defining characteristic of America. They study logic, read and perform Shakespeare, and have made real, lasting friendships.

The past four years have truly solidified my belief in the power and promise of a classical education. Education is about more than memorizing random facts and passing standardized tests. Education is about becoming a well-rounded, critically thinking, fully formed individual who can contribute to the world rather that expecting the world to give you everything.

This experience has inspired in me a desire to educate myself more deeply, reading classics, and at the very least learning about classics that to date, I haven’t yet read. Hence my promotion of Spencer Klavan’s Young Heretics. In addition, I strongly suggest Michael Knowles book club, courtesy of Prager U. You may not have time to read lots of classic literature, but you can be exposed to a lot of it as you decide which ones are worthy of spending the time to read.

Well, that’s our educational journey. I’d love to hear about yours (or your family’s!)

Defending the Western Classics

Young Heretics’ Spencer Klavan

It just occurred to me this morning that I am long overdue on plugging one of my favorite podcasts.

With the continued assault on the good, true, and beautiful art and literature of the Western tradition, it’s important that we support those who are extolling the richness and riches of Western culture. Unlike many people today, I am actually quite grateful for having been born and educated in the west.

I’m a huge podcast listener. Most of the podcasts I consistently listen to are male produced, although I have been known to listen to a few women, albeit less consistently. Michael Knowles is among my favorites because in addition to his cultural and political take on things, he consistently extols the true, good, and beautiful while being unyielding on objective truth. This post, however, was not inspired by Michael Knowles, who is far too young to be so wise in my opinion. No, this post is inspired by Young Heretics. From the website:

Piloted by its Oxford-educated host Spencer Klavan, Young Heretics provides an open forum for exploring the concepts of truth, beauty, and everything that makes Western culture great in the face of an increasingly hostile academia, media, and culture.

Most of us -of a certain age, at least- were taught some classic literature that is part of the Western canon of great literature. In recent decades, students are receiving less and less exposure to the classics in favor of modern and postmodern twaddle. Now that the academic world is overtly hostile to the political, cultural, and literary traditions of the West, fewer students than ever before are experiencing any of these classics. enter Young Heretics.

The beauty of this podcast is that it genuinely celebrates western literature. Klavan definitely has a perspective, and he doesn’t hide his conservative leanings. However, his podcasts are specifically about exploring great books, poetry, prose and plays, for the love of Western literature. He doesn’t do this because he is trying to stake out a political position. He shares his thoughts on The Twelfth Night because Shakespeare’s genius deserves continued celebration for its own sake.

I highly suggest checking out Young Heretics. If nothing else, you’ll get a fun and stimulating crash course in western literature and at least a sliver of a classical education.

Have a great rest of your week, and I hope to round out our dissection of Voddie Baucham’s Fault Lines on Monday.

Dissecting Fault Lines: Chapters 7-9

The first posts in this series can be read here and here. Today, we will look at the next three chapters in Voddie Baucham’s Fault Lines.

In chapters 7-9, Voddie Baucham begins to outline some of the sands which have begun to shift within the American church in earnest over the past several years. As the social justice movement kicked into high gear throughout the culture, these shifts have caused untold damage, and the aftershocks of these developments have permeated almost every area of life in the 21st century.

Chapter 7: The Ground is Moving

One of the things that has struck me while following some of the reaction to this book, is the number of detractors who deny that there are fault lines shifting in the church on top of these issues. It really makes you wonder how they are interpreting what some of us are seeing.

My favorite portion of this chapter is on page 132, where Baucham makes the case that a large part of what is happening now is due to a refusal of believers to debate the ideas we are all being presented with. Debating these ideologies on the basis of Scriptural truth can be a pathway to healing and truly Biblical unity. Unfortunately, that is not allowed to happen. He writes:

I am a debater; I always have been. But in the current climate, debate is becoming a lost art-partly because of the general decline in the study of logic and rhetoric, but mostly because of the general feminization of culture and its consequent disdain for open verbal combat.

Gone are the days of Luther and Erasmus slugging it out over the question of original sin. Today both men would be accused of being petty (for daring to split hairs over such theological minutia), mean-spirited (for daring to speak so forcefully in favor of their own position and against the other’s), and downright un-Christlike (for throwing around the word “heresy”). I have often said, “The Eleventh Commandment is ‘Thou shalt be nice’…and we don’t believe the other ten.”

The major thrust of chapter 7 is an unfolding of the events taking place in the ostensibly conservative Southern Baptist Convention and its seminaries, where Baucham got his start and rose to prominence as a preacher. To say that the convention has been infiltrated would be an understatement.

Chapter 8: The Damage

Chapter 8 explores the damage that has been done as a result of the preaching and embracing of the victimology mindset. He begins with examining the weapons used by critical theory advocates to double down in the face of critique and their subsequent tendency to use those weapons to shut down the conversation. Ironically, those of us who counter their emotive, experienced based arguments with statistics and facts are also often accused of trying to shut down the conversation.

This chapter also surveys the tangible, quantifiable damage done to poor and minority communities as a result of abandoning the principles of excellence, education, hard work, and morality. Principles, he hastens to clarify, which used to be consistently and boldly preached from the pulpits of majority black churches. I can attest that this is true.

There is nothing to be gained from teaching any person or group of people that their destinies rests on the repentance, benevolence, and “allyship” of people who are their supposed oppressors. How is this not the definition of white supremacy? Further, what healing is there to be found in an ideology built on such a sick, vicious cycle? The only ones benefiting from this are the grifters releasing the “curriculums” we’re supposed to believe will lead us to nirvana.

Chapter 9: Aftershock

Chapter 9 was, for me, by far the most enlightening of these three chapters. Bro. Baucham demonstrates the absolute folly demonstrated by Christian leaders who believe that they can embrace critical social justice theory on the issue of race and sex without being tainted by the issues of sexuality, abortion, and transgenderism. All of the aforementioned cars are a part of the same train, heading in one direction.

As is his custom, Voddie Baucham doesn’t hesitate to quote and call out by name those pastors who are flirting with this toxic ideology. It is this dynamic that is causing the most uproar in the reformed community over his book. However, he does this with the care and concern of a brother in Christ, not in a condemning, mean spirited way. It needs to be done, as many of these pastors need to examine their rhetoric and the things they are embracing under the light of Biblical truth. Of particular interest to me is the weirdness spouted by the formerly sane Pastor Tim Keller, on p. 186:

Keller goes on to clarify that white Christians must conclude, “I am the product of and standing on the shoulders of other people who got that [privilege] through injustice…the Bible says you are involved in injustice…even if you didn’t actually do it.”

Remember, he is speaking about having “white skin”. Your family never owned slaves? Doesn’t matter. You have family who fought and died for the Union in the Civil War? Doesn’t matter. Your family came here after slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow? Doesn’t matter. You are descended from Jews who immigrated to the U.S. to flee oppression after World War II? Doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is “white skin.”

Baucham makes the point here that this kind of rhetoric (never mind the faulty theology) can only lead to more and more damage. He’s right.

As always, remember that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of everything he touches on in the book. I am hoping that you are intrigued enough to buy it and have any blanks filled in for yourselves.

Until next time…

Friday Faves: Launch Sky

Happy Friday! I had nothing planned for this Friday’s Fave post. This week has been pretty much a grind. But then…

This morning, around 6AM, as my man and I were out before dawn doing our normal weekday workout, the sky caught his notice. Because we almost never watch local news reports, we were completely unaware that Spacex was planning a manned launch this morning at 5:49 AM. It was the unmistakable signs in the sky that clued us in to what was happening.

Phone cameras are generally not the best tools to use when capturing photos of the night sky, but that was all we had on us, so that’s what we used. These are subpar to be sure, but hopefully they provide a hint of the dazzling effects of the launch on our pre-dawn sky.

The first thing we noticed.

I made an obligatory joke that the aliens have finally arrived. Afterward, we began to watch the skyline change over the next several minutes. A few minutes later, it looked like this:

The last photo we took was the beautiful distilling of the clouds and light as they interacted with the wind:

The pre-dawn sky is always lovely, but this was a especially striking.

Happy Friday. I hope to continue our dive into Fault Lines on Monday.

Dissecting Fault Lines: Chapters 4-6

The first post in this series can be read here. It really isn’t possible to thoroughly cover the ground tilled in this book. These post are very rough overviews. I highly recommend reading the book for yourselves to fill in the mile wide gaps in my posts.

In chapters 4 through 6 of Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelical’s Looming Catastrophe, Voddie Baucham makes the compelling case that what is currently gripping the west is no less than a religious fervor. He calls it the “new religion”, and explains why it is such. I am more inclined to see it as a new flavor of an old religious recipe. Whichever way you view it, one thing is undeniably true: This religion is being embraced by the Christian church in the western hemisphere, gaining ground because well-meaning people are not properly informed about the underlying dogma, and is no less than a false gospel hiding behind the mask of brotherly love.

Chapter 4: A New Religion

In chapter 4, Baucham does what I hinted at above. He asserts that anti-racism as currently presented is a new religion, and deftly describes its parallels to traditional religion. It’s actually pretty brilliant, which is not surprising coming from him. He explains:

In the same manner, this new body of divinity comes complete with its own cosmology (CRT); original sin (racism); law (antiracism); gospel (racial reconciliation); martyrs (Saints Trayvon, Mike, George, Breonna, etc); priests (oppressed minorities); means of atonement (reparations); new birth (wokeness); liturgy (lament); canon (CSJ social science); theologians (DiAngelo, Kendi, Brown, Crenshaw, MacIntosh, etc.); and catechism (“say their names”). We’ll examine some of these topics in this chapter and a few later on.

In case you’re wondering about its soteriology, there isn’t one. Antiracism offers no salvation- only perpetual penance in an effort to battle an incurable disease. (p. 67)

The rest of the chapter explores some of these religious components, further elaborating on how we can see the religious parallels more clearly. The importance of discernment here cannot be overstated. When we allow ourselves to be sucked into this realm on the basis of a desire to be a ‘good person’, we are unwittingly embracing a false, competing gospel.

Chapter 5: A New Priesthood

Several years ago, before this current fervor of antiracism captured the imagination of our entire country, Voddie Baucham, ahead of the curve, coined the phrase ethnic gnosticism. The basic idea of ethnic gnosticism is that there is a singular black perspective which all black people share, unless we are somehow psychically damaged.

As an example, he recalls how Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron was received in the wake of announcing his findings in the Breonna Taylor case. The press accused him of turning his back on black America. Baucham also references a particularly stinging critique from a black commentator that I recall as well. She makes it clear that AG Cameron “does not speak for black folk”, she rounded it out by calling him “skin-folk, but not kinfolk”. In other words, he is broken.

Baucham makes the case that this emphasis on black voices, along with other oppressed voices including the LGBTQ+ “community”, make up a new priesthood. White heterosexual people, as part of the dominant hegemony are, according to this new religion, innate epistemological inferiors. They cannot see the truth, nor can they perceive truth without a guide of pure heart; an undamaged priest.

Veggie Tales author Phil Vischer offers us a perfect example of this idea of a new priesthood:

In other words, despite being a black American descendant of slaves, I am unqualified to be a priestess in this new religion. I, like Bro. Baucham, am psychically broken.

Chapter 6: A New Canon

I’ll keep this section short. The gist of it, which Baucham explores eloquently and in depth, is that the church is falling for the lie that Phil Vischer perpetrated above. Namely, that the key to reconciliation between different ethnic groups cannot be found in Scripture. As a result, this new religion with its own cosmology and priesthood, also has its own canon. It’s a canon that has been brought alongside the Bible in many churches over the past year.

Baucham explains the danger in this, as well as noting that the magazine/website Christianity Today has decided to help believers by publishing the must-read books, must-watch videos, and must-listen podcasts to cure them of their icky whiteness and inherent racism.

In their feature article, The Anti-Racist Curriculum White Evangelicals Need, we find what Baucham describes as ‘the new canon”. I have heard of several of these, but others I have not. It’s quite a list!

One of the things I have always appreciated about Voddie Baucham is his strong belief in reading a broad spectrum of literature. As a staunch homeschool proponent over the past two decades, he has always promoted the idea that reading opposing viewpoints is important for us, and for our children. He makes the same case again here.

The problem with this particular approach is that is begins with the inherent notion that it is not possible for people outside of the priesthood to be good citizens, or walk through life without being a racist (different from being an antiracist), without this curriculum. To propose such a thing to Christians is to propose that the salvation and new heart offered in Christ cannot be cultivated though His word alone with the aid of the Holy Spirit. This borders on heretical, and Bro. Baucham is right to point that out.

Next time, we’ll discuss chapters 7-9.

Dissecting Fault Lines: Chapters 1-3

This is the first in what will likely be a series of five posts discussing Fault Lines, a new book by Bro. Voddie Baucham. In it, he explores the discordant relationship between Scriptural truth and the current move to combat supposed racism in the church and larger culture. This week, we will look at chapters 1-3.

Bro. Baucham offers a great opportunity for Christian followers of Critical Theory and social justice theories to read a thorough, well-researched, and Biblical critique to explain why it is not compatible with our most holy faith. Like me, he has lived a thoroughly black experience and shares his testimony in detail. Equal parts memoir, sociological research, and Biblical analysis, Fault Lines is a must read for Christians trying to figure out what to make of the current madness.

One of the most frequently wielded weapons in this ongoing cultural war is an outsized emphasis on feelings, narratives, and so-called lived experiences. The redundancy of the phrase “lived experiences” never ceases to amuse me. While Bro. Voddie makes the case throughout his book that Christians are called to a higher standard that subjective reasoning, he is also highly attuned to the current zeitgeist. Attempts to dismiss his criticisms as invalid are inevitable and have already begun. In anticipation of such objections, he begins the book with a fairly transparent background sketch of his early life, of his own “lived experiences”.

Chapter 1: A Black Man

Unlike myself, Baucham has bothered to trace his antebellum roots all the way back to the state where his third great paternal grandfather was a slave. He outlines the migration of various family members from the south to the west, eventually setting the stage for his 1969 Los Angeles, California birth and childhood.

One of the most notable moments he recalls is the experience of being bussed from his home in South Central Los Angeles to a mostly white school in Palisades. It was there when he first had the experience of being called a nigger:

I have heard it said that you “never forget the first time a white person calls you a nigger.” That was certainly the case for me, but not because I’d never heard it before. I’d actullly heard it all my life. People had used it to refer to me, and I’d used it to refer to others. When black people used the word, it was rather a benign moniker, even a term of endearment. But from a white person’s mouth, it was a weapon being used to demean and dehumanize me.

The little boy who said it probably had no idea what he was doing. He used the word like it was a new toy with which he was learning to play. However when he saw my reaction to it, he used it with greater fervor. He had struck a nerve, and like any kid on the playground who feels like he has figured out how to get the upper hand, he continued to strike at that nerve.

Eventually Baucham had enough of the bully on the playground, physically retaliated, and with the boy was sent to the principal’s office. He remembers that his mother never excused his resorting to violence, and that she never allowed him to view his blackness as a curse nor as an excuse not to excel.

Despite being similar age as Voddie Baucham (I am a couple of years younger), and having had a similar experience of being bused weekly from my all-black school to an all-white school as part of a gifted and talented program, I have no memories of any white student calling me a nigger. It is a nerve that was, blessedly, never struck in me. However, there were plenty of parallels between my trajectory and Baucham’s relative to how he interacted with the larger world as a black American, and as a black Christian.

Chapter 2: A Black Christian

Chapter 2 is a continuation of the memoir portion of the book. Again, Baucham takes pains to be clear about the reality of his past experiences as a pre-emptive strike against objections based on the notion that he was somehow privileged or, my personal favorite, self-hating. It is not possible to read this book and conclude that Voddie Baucham rejects critical theory, social justice, or the philosophy of anti-racism because his experience is divergent from that of the average black man.

In this portion, he describes his initial contact with Christianity. Having been raised by Buddhist single mother, he had neither the background nor religious frame of reference so common to most black Americans. I suspect this is what accounts for his powerful presentation as a Christian apologist.

As a standout college football player, his conversion began the detour of his life away from a prospective career in the NFL, to that of a distinguished and passionate young preacher, and later a standout in the Southern Baptist Convention. Upon transferring to Bible college, he learned that in order to receive a generous and much needed scholarship, he had to be a member of a Southern Baptist church. Despite being devoted to Christ, he was extremely Afrocentric. He recalls his first query about the requirement to be a part of a Southern Baptist Church: Where he could find a black SBC? The registrar, he recalled, didn’t find his question the least bit shocking.

His experience in the Southern Baptist Convention, even all those years ago, put to death the narrative that it is a racist institution. His rise to prominence came during his time in white Southern Baptist churches. His eventual parting of ways with the convention was a diverging of ideas and theology, not race or ethnicity. That is all I’ll offer on the subject. I encourage you to go buy and read the book. It fills in all the blanks.

Chapter 2 explores many of Baucham’s experiences on his evolution toward belief the universal brotherhood of believers. It was not an easy journey, but it is worth reading about. At the time of the book’s writing, Baucham, his wife, and their 7 remaining minor children had relocated to Lusaka, Zambia in sub-Saharan Africa to build a classical Christian college from its foundation. This is hardly the landing place a man would choose if he was consumed with self-hatred. Of course, that’s all detractors can offer to those of us who refuse to tow the leftist/liberal narrative, despite all evidence to the contrary..

Chapter 3: Seeking True Justice

In Chapter 3, Baucham gets down to the business of confronting the mania that has gripped the United States and is now being exported around the globe. It is important to pause here and remind readers that Fault Lines is a cry to the Christian church, so when Baucham asks, “What is True justice?”, he is looking for a Biblical answer to that question. It is in this chapter that he begins to unpack that very large knapsack, with Scripture as the authoritative answer to the question.

Before he does that, however, he recalls many of the pivotal public events that have brought us to this moment. He starts by revealing false narratives, beginning with Colin Kapernick in 2016. I’d like to note here that in 2016, Barack Obama was still president.  Baucham sifts through the details of several of the most infamous racially charged cases of the past decade to determine if they can objectively be characterized as racist incidents. He also highlights several other shooting deaths of actual unarmed innocents at the hands of police, for whom justice was never demanded, and whose stories were never told because they had the misfortune of being white.

Exploring narratives, defining terms (or more accurately allowing the SJWs to define their terms), and setting the stage for what follows is the main goal of chapter 3.

Stay tuned later this week as we look closer at the next few chapters of Fault Lines.

The Abolition of Man

PSA: I wanted to give a heads up to the few readers who expressed interest in my blogging through Voddie Baucham’s Fault Lines. I’m planning to run the first post on Thursday. So if you’ve been reading along, please honor us with your initial thoughts on chapters 1-3.

As a home educating family, in near constant association with other home educating families, and embracing a classical approach to education, we have many opportunities to discuss educational philosophies and purposes. After one such conversation, I was moved to re-read C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man.

The thrust of, this one of Lewis’ shorter works, is a critique of modern educational techniques. Keep in mind that for C.S. Lewis, “modern” was 1943, and the book was originally three lectures that he delivered that year. If Lewis had a problem with education’s regressive trajectory in 1943, he would mostly be horrified of what has become of education in this, the year 2021.

As we have discarded the transcendent from our pursuit of knowledge, education has become nigh useless for anything outside of the classroom, which belies ts ultimate purpose. Because this s a well known work, I’ll round this out with some of the more profound quotes from the book.

On training the mind in the right direction:

“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded against a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”

On the result of filling children with facts, disregarding the importance of teaching them to love what is True, Good, and Beautiful.

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

On the reality of objective, transcendent, reality:

The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or…ideologies…all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they posses.

If you haven’t read it, it’s less than 130 pages, and if you are in any way involved with the education of a child, I consider it a must-read.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Blaggard

Alfie Doolittle

I recently watched the 1964 musical My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, yet I found it delightful. The film is a modern adaptation of Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 theater production.

For those unfamiliar, My Fair Lady stars Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, a loud, uncouth young woman selling flowers on the streets of London. Her father, Alfred Doolittle, is quickly revealed to be little more than a drunkard and a hustler. At one point in the film, Professor Higgins, Eliza’s unkind and insulting but determined benefactor, determines at first meeting that Alfie is little more than a *blaggard. I really liked the word, partly for it’s whimsical phonetics, and partly because we seem to be a country being led by many blaggards. I think a definition is in order.

Blaggard: A scoundrel; an unprincipled contemptible person; an untrustworthy person. Usually, only used to refer to a male person.

I’m not particularly keen on the notion of relegating this type of character to one of the male sex, but I assume there is a female equivalent to be found in the language of the time when blaggard was more commonly used. I could not find today’s word in most popular dictionaries. Instead most referred me etymologically to the word blackguard, from the 1530s, which is defined similarly, having been transformed into the word blaggard by both the English and the Irish.

Alfie Doolittle (r), constrained by middle class morality.

One interesting thing about our blaggard Alfie Doolittle was that he was solidly opposed to what he referred to as “middle class morality”. He enjoyed the freedom of being on the lower rungs of society. He had nothing, so no one expected anything of him, leaving him free to do whatsoever he desired. And what he most desired was to drink, carouse, and not be bothered with marrying the mother of his children.

Later, due to a passing joke made at his expense by Professor Higgins, Alfie inherited a tidy sum of money. At once, he felt a responsibility to marry Eliza’s long time “stepmother”, and as the film closes we find Alfie in a tux, swigging booze and chasing women with his last night of freedom. Middle class morality means he needs to do the respectable thing, but not just yet.

Beneath the veneer of the tails and top hat, he’s still a blaggard at heart. With his last night of freedom, he parties the night away, while repeatedly reminding his companions to “get me to the church on time!”

I suspect George Bernard Shaw’s perception of middle class morality was both complex and ironic, with a bit of contempt thrown in besides.

*My browser considers every instance of the word blaggard misspelled. For some reason, I enjoy it when that happens; especially when I know that my word is a legitimate one.